I press against your chest. Your skin is cold and moist and I feel your muscles struggle beneath me as you fight for every breath. I send the sound of the wet crackles amidst the barely discernable movement of air to the ears that are listening.
I am pulled away from you and slung across my holder’s neck. The hands of my holder move quickly placing you in the bed, pressing the call light attached to the rail, fitting an oxygen mask to your face. A blood pressure cuff is fitted to one arm and blue tourniquet is pulled tight around the other. In less than a minute an IV catheter has been placed in your vein and your breathing is maybe a little easier.
A voice echoes over the intercom asking what you need. My holder’s voice is calm, yet firm. “I need a provider in room 5 for respiratory distress. And page respiratory. We’re going to need bipap.” The hands place stickers on your chest and attach them to wires. Your heart rhythm appears on the screen, fast and frantic.
The Emergency Department doctor arrives in seconds and begins to give orders for oxygen and IVs then stops, seeing these things are already done. A respiratory therapist pushes the bipap machine into the room as the provider states, “page—” then notices the therapist and looks to my holder and says, “Thank you.”
“Blood pressures 182/56,” my holder states briskly. “Do you want nitro?”
My holder’s hands are already pushing the spike into the glass bottle of medication, hanging it from the pole and sliding the tubing into the pump as the provider gives the order for the medication.
A new mask is fitted to your face, this one is much tighter.
Ten minutes later I once again press against your chest. You skin is warm and dry and your breathing has eased. I send the sounds of the air moving in and out of your lungs to my holder’s ears. The wet crackles are still there, but only at the very bases of your lungs. And the panic is gone from your eyes as you thank my holder with them. As I am flung back up onto my holder’s neck, I am proud.
I am a nurse’s stethoscope.
Teri Lee is the author of Troubled Spirits, a YA paranormal novel, but she is also an ER nurse. This post is written in response to a blatant lack of education demonstrated on The View regarding the role of nurses. Please feel free to share.